I love this time of year. I walk to the park with my son and hum the theme to the Peanuts Christmas Special "Christmastime is Here." I picture Snoopy doing his crazy dance and the Peanuts kids joining in, I think of snow falling on tall mountaintops, skiers swooshing down the hills, evergreens dusted with white sparkles, breath fogging up in the chilly air, kids bundled up in snow gear so thick that they look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, hot chocolate steaming, candy cane flavored everything and my great aunt's manger set up on my mom's table, twinkling softly by the light of the Christmas tree.
Somewhere along the way, the holidays became about commercialism. I don't know when this happened (and working in retail all through my high school and college careers put me in the thick of it) or why, but a tiny part of my dies when I see the first signs up Christmas in late August around my birthday.
According to Wikipedia, "Festivus, a well-celebrated parody, has become a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas and holiday season. Originally a family tradition of a scriptwriter working on the American sitcom Seinfeld, the holiday entered popular culture after it was made the focus of a 1997 episode of the program. The holiday's celebration, as it was shown on Seinfeld, includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum "Festivus pole," practices such as the "Airing of Grievances" and "Feats of Strength," and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles.""
Watching people worry about what to buy their friends, are they spending enough, can they return it, what will they get in return, just isn't the point. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or whatever, this is yet another fine example of why knitted gifts are the best kind. Instead of hightailing it to an insanely crowded store, we take the time as crafters to find the perfect fiber in the exact shade we know the wearer would love. We choose a pattern with care, thinking about who will wear it and in what climate. Whether it's fair isle, lace, cabled or simple stockinette, nothing beats a gift made stitch by stitch with love. Knitting by a fireside with a mug of peppermint tea or working on weaving in ends and wrapping handmade gifts beats strong-arming your way through a crowded mall any day. We crafters know this and we hold onto that knowledge like a secret we share amongst ourselves. Handmade gifts proclaim "here, I made this for you because you matter to me" in a way most store-bought things cannot. I like the idea behind Festivus because it's about celebrating the season and the love we have for our friends and family, not breaking the bank buying gifts that will be forgotten by next year.
I am particularly fond of cowls, both wearing them and gifting them. They're practical, they don't fall off or get lost as easily as a scarf, you can wear them inside or outside, they tuck easily in your bag and they fit and look good on everyone. I designed the Festivus Cowl to celebrate the season. Evergreen trees are a symbol of this time of year, no matter what holiday(s) you celebrate. I chose red and green for Christmas, but you could easily knit one up in white and blue for Chaunukah, red, black and green for Kwanzaa or any colors you want for Festivus (a white and gray would be subtle and gorgeous!). I love Cascade's Hollywood yarn because it adds an additional glamor factor with its sparkle. To me, holidays and sparkle go hand in hand. With 15 sparkly shades to chose from, a washable blend of superwash wool, acrylic and polyester, no matter how much hot chocolate you manage to spill, you can throw it in the washer and dryer and wear it to your next holiday party in a snap. With 208 yards per skein, you can get 2 cowls out of 2 skeins (reversing the colors because you'll have more of the CC leftover after finishing the first). 2 skeins = 2 gifts! For both men and women! Huzzah for cowls and sparkle yarn!
So whatever you celebrate in your home, I hope this holiday season you'll pause and remember why we celebrate this time of year in the first place. As you shop in your LYS and fill your bag with soft and gorgeous fibers, then spend your nights staying up late finding the perfect patterns to knit for your loved ones, close your eyes and take a moment. Happy Christmahaunukawanzavus to you and yours.
Download the free Festivus Cowl here.